Beautylish Social Experiment
Published Jul 16, 2011
Perception is everything isn't it? About a year ago, I dyed my hair pink. During those six months, I noticed that people acted more guarded when I was around and women paid more attention to their kids when they were next to me—they even held their purses tighter! That's when I first learned that your makeup and hair styling all affect how others treat you. But I like being a chameleon and changing my look all the time—I've even learned to tune out other people's reactions. That's why I decided to try this social experiment. I figure, what better way to test society today than by taking three completely different beauty looks to the street? I see people of many ages and races during my morning commute to San Francisco. The Bay Area is a very diverse place, but even so, the interaction from person to person varies based on what they look like.
On the first day of the experiment I decided to dress very edgy. I put hair extensions in my hair and even added a purple piece to punch it up. Using Sugarpill makeup, I rocked a pink to purple gradient brows, heavy colorful eye makeup and green glitter (courtesy of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics). I also accessorized with spike jewelry, neon clothing, and snakeskin leggings. Needless to say, in a train full of business people heading to work at 8 in the morning, I definitely stood out. And the results were surprising. Most women and children did a double take because they weren't expecting to see someone looking like that on the morning express train. Soon after, they kept their eyes to themselves were extra careful not to lock eyes with me again. When it was clear that the car was being filled up, no one would sit next to me. I was even avoided on the street, when I walked two blocks to my office. To have a common denominator in this experiment, I decided to stop a businessman everyday while he was busy looking at his phone to ask for the time. Day One's gentleman was slightly startled but very polite. He smiled and lightheartedly gave me the time with no judgement. Throughout the day I noticed that younger men were more willing to interact with me, whereas the more mature man would completely ignore me.
On the second day, my hair was a tall and dramatic fusion of a Gwen Stefani-inspired fauxhawk and victory roll, complete with makeup to match. I was feeling retro, so I wore a lace cardigan, black high-waisted skirt, and peep toe heels. Again, no one sat next to me on the train at all in the morning and I noticed that I was getting glares from younger women. The businessman I stopped on Day Two to ask for the time was taken aback. He caught his breath and bashfully gave me the time. It was quite sweet. The surprising observation was the positive body language and face-to-face interactions I received from middle-aged men and women. All were very friendly and one person even complimented on my look. On the way to lunch, three construction workers stopped mid-conversation to watch me walk past in what seemed to be admiration.
The last day of the experiment was dedicated to being completely natural and almost bare-faced. I went for a comfortable and low key outfit with a loose grey cardigan, v-neck tee, and jeans. Out of the three days, this was the only day that someone sat next to me on the train. In fact, I sat next to ladies going to San Francisco and then back home at the end of the day. The businessman that I stopped on Day Three barely even noticed me when I asked for the time and quickly brushed me off shortly after replying. Although I was dressed the most comfortably on Day Three, I felt like I was invisible in a sea of people—I blended in too well. Barely anyone gave me direct eye contact and I even had a man not keep a door open for me—when my hands were full! This day seemed to be kind of dull and disappointing, but I did notice that younger men were more interactive with me, especially when it came to eye contact and general acknowledgment.
In the end, I've realized that you can't please everyone. You should feel comfortable in your own skin and look however you want. Whether you choose to wear a giant streak of teal over your lids or don't have the time to even bother with flat-ironing your hair, what you look like should not make you feel like any less of a person. Enjoy what you do with your overall look because life is short and you might as well play while you can.